Accident Bleriot XI Unregistered,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218005
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Date:Saturday 21 September 1912
Type:Bleriot XI
Owner/operator:Henry Jacob Delaval Astley
Registration: Unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Royal Ulster Agricultural Show Grounds, Balmoral, Belfast. -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Balmoral Show Grounds, Belfast
Destination airport:Balmoral Show Grounds, Belfast
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
21.9.1912: Blériot XI Side slipped into the ground, Royal Ulster Agricultural Show Grounds, Balmoral, Belfast, Ireland. Pilot and sole occupant - Henry Jacob Delaval Astley (aged 24) - was killed. It is believed that this event was the first ever fatal aviation accident in Ireland. According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Daily Journal and Tribune", Knoxville, Tennessee: September 22, 1912 - see link #1)

"The Intrepid English Aviator, Killed in the Presence of Thirty Thousand Spectators
Belfast, Sept. 21

H. J. D. Astley, one of the most intrepid and skillful of English aviators, was killed this afternoon by the fall of his aeroplane. Astley and James Valentine, each driving a machine, were making exhibition flights in the presence of thirty thousand spectators. Astley, after a splendid flight, was descending. He attempted to bank too sharply when making a sudden turn and caught by a fluky wind the monoplane fell from a height of one hundred feet. Women screamed and fainted. Astley was flung against one of the wings and his skull fractured. He died soon afterwards.

Astley when flying from France to England with Miss Trehawke Davis as a passenger had a marvelous escape near Lille on September 17. On that occasion the machine fell 150 feet and Miss Davis is said to have made an entry in her diary of her sensations as they dropped."

A further contemporary report was published in "Flight" magazine (28 September 1912 page 870 - see link #6):

BRITISH aviation could ill afford to lose the services of such an able and enthusiastic pilot as Mr. H. J. D. Astley, who met his death at the Balmoral Show Grounds, Belfast, last Saturday. So successful had the flights on the previous Saturday proved that arrangements were made with Messrs. Valentine and Astley to repeat them. Mr. Valentine was first up and gave a ten minutes' exhibition on his Deperdussin, after which Mr. Astley ascended, but with no definite intention as to what form his flying would take.

In endeavouring to keep within the limits of the oval shaped ground Mr. Astley made some sharp turns, and in one of them apparently the machine side-slipped. The pilot evidently realised that a fall was bound to come, and set to work to keep the machine clear of the mass of spectators. This he succeeded in doing, and the monoplane crashed down inside the track.

Mr. Astley received such injuries to the head through bring pitched violently forward from his seat, that he died two hours later despite the endeavours of Professor Sinclair, the eminent surgeon, who happened to witness the fall. At the inquest on Monday the jury, after hearing the evidence of Mr. Henry Delacombe, manager for Messers Astley and Valentine of Belfast, and the medical evidence of Professor Sinclair, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," adding a rider to the effect that Mr. Astley died in his efforts to save others by getting his machine clear of t'he spectators."


1. Daily Journal and Tribune, Knoxville, Tennessee: September 22, 1912
6. Flight, 28 Sept 1912. P. 870 at

Revision history:

17-Nov-2018 18:37 Dr.John Smith Added
17-Nov-2018 18:38 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
26-Nov-2018 17:12 Dr.John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]

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